Time again for my monthly (well, roughly) pastime of developer diary writing! Last month, I might have mentioned plots and intrigue, but I think I'll hold off on that a bit more... Instead, let's talk about units and the combat system.
Like in the first Crusader Kings, military units are of variable size and composition. Each can contain any number of each of the seven troop types (light and heavy infantry, pike men, light cavalry, knights, archers and horse archers.) Most units are raised from a corresponding settlement (castle, church or city), their size and composition dependent on the improvements constructed there. Others belong to a mercenary group or holy order, etc. Units are discrete and cannot be merged or split into smaller parts, though of course they can be grouped together in armies. The basic system should be familiar to anyone who has played the original Crusader Kings.
Combat, however, is different from our other games. As soon as they are grouped together in a larger army, units are are assigned to one of three positions; left flank, center, or right flank. This is done automatically, but can be altered manually by players so inclined. On the battlefield, each position fights separately - normally against the corresponding part of the enemy army. Combat between positions is divided into three phases; skirmish, melee and pursue/flee. My left flank can be skirmishing against the enemy's right flank while my center is locked in melee, etc. The seven unit types have different strengths and weaknesses, so that for example archers excel at skirmish and knights at melee. The leader of each flank (a character), will pick combat tactics, which determines if his position should strive to close for melee, or avoid melee, etc. When an enemy position breaks, it will flee, and the pursue phase ensues. The longer the phase lasts, the more losses that contingent will sustain, but on the other hand, the pursuing force will not be assisting against the remaining enemy positions - also a tactical decision by the flank commander. Combat tactics are similar to the combat events of Rome, but more developed. (Btw, combat tactics are fully moddable.)
Apart from combat tactics, there are also more traditional combat events, for example when commanders get wounded, killed or imprisoned, or when they improve on their martial skills. Sieges work in a similar fashion, but emphasizing morale loss, and with a different set of combat tactics. A commander with a high Intrigue skill might even manage to bribe some defenders into opening the gates. What about fleets? Unlike CK, ships do exist in Crusader Kings II, similar to the galleys in Rome. They are raised like normal troop levies in coastal provinces, but can only be used to transport troops - not to fight or block straits (large scale naval battles in the period were rare to say the least.)
Oh, I almost forgot to mention that if an army is victorious, all commanders will bask in the glory and gain prestige. Conversely, the shame of defeat results in prestige loss. So, choosing to lead the army yourself can be profitable in terms of prestige, but of course, war is a dangerous business...
Enjoy the screenies and stay tuned for the next dev diary - sometime in August.
Henrik Fåhraeus, Associate Producer and CKII Project Lead